In Brief

University accidentally uses Nazi quote in motivational message

Advice from Field Marshal Erwin Rommel included in email to students

The University of Exeter has made a public apology after circulating an email featuring a quote by a Nazi general.

The email, sent out to students and staff by the university’s careers advice service, quoted Field Marshal Erwin Rommel: “One cannot permit unique opportunities to slip by for the sake of trifles.”

Exeter said the quote was “randomly” generated from a website by a member of staff who wanted to include a motivational message. Unfortunately, the staff member did not recognise the general’s name. 

A spokesperson explained: “This was a genuine error and in no way intentional. However, we apologise unreservedly for any offence it may have caused, and have put additional processes in place to ensure this doesn’t happen again.”

This is not the first time that Exeter University has made headlines recently. 

Earlier this year, students from a law society at the institution shared “extremely racist and sexist messages in a WhatsApp group, leading to multiple investigations and expulsions”, says regional news site DevonLive. The row followed an outcry last year following the discovery of a swastika carving and a “rights for whites” sign on the university campus. 

The National Union of Students (NUS) says Jewish students in Britain are feeling “increasingly unsafe” and often avoid applying to certain campuses amid “fears of anti-Semitism”, the BBC reports.

“Exeter must take appropriate action to rectify the damage caused and provide sufficient reassurances that something like this will never happen again,” the NUS said in a statement.

Rommel, who was known as the Desert Fox, became a national hero in Germany after commanding the Afrika Korps during the Second World War.

However, his loyalty to the Nazi war machine has been the source of much debate. After being implicated in a failed assassination attempt on Adolf Hitler, Rommel was given the options of facing a trial that would result in his execution, or commiting suicide. Rommel chose the latter option, taking his own life in October 1944 at the age of 52.

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